January 8, 2024

The three sets of work sessions since July covering the topics of Accountability, Restructuring and Retention represent important progress toward building a Workplace Equity Strategic Plan Renewal plan. However, through the experience, the steering committee and participating subject matter experts have considered adjustments to the structure of the all-day sessions that could help increase engagement, which they shared during the September sessions.

The group implemented a key change during the October work session — slated to focus on the dual topics of Training and Data — by adding a virtual town hall to hear from an expanded set of subject matter experts and other staff. The hour-long moderated forum allowed steering committee members to hear from a more diverse range of voices about the month’s Training topic. The group also revisited the previous month’s Retention topic

Participants were prompted with questions related to the topics, giving them an opportunity to provide feedback directly to the steering committee, which would be collected and used to help committee members draft recommendations. The town hall format will be incorporated into the remaining topic work sessions.

This new opportunity also provided clarity regarding the responsibilities of the steering committee members and subject matter experts who had been joining the work sessions.

The steering committee settled into small groups to review recommendations related to Training and Data that had been generated across past sessions and to incorporate the feedback gathered from the previous day’s town hall.
After the town hall, steering committee members broke out into identity-based caucuses to review the Retention recommendations that came out of the September sessions and ensure that they accurately reflected the essence and intentions of the group’s discussions.

On the second day of the work session, the steering committee broke into small groups to review recommendations related to Training and Data that had been generated in previous sessions and to incorporate the feedback gathered from the previous day’s town hall. 

Committee members found an emphasis on the need to standardize and increase consistency in training across all departments, including the Sheriff’s, District Attorney’s and Auditor’s offices, as well as non-departmental offices, but with room for customization as needed. They also concluded that tracking these departmental trainings remains a gap and that it’s imperative for departments to be able to demonstrate actionable implementation of training content. They also identified the need to flesh out the development of a model for "good managers."

Later, committee members pulled out high-level themes and important components from recommendations about Data generated during previous work sessions. The top elements they found included: the creation of a data council, investments in the Evaluation and Research Unit and other analyst roles, making data available to analysts to collaborate and strategize, standardization and sharing of stay and exit interviews, and the collection of qualitative data to tell the stories of our employees.

At the end of the day, participants split into two groups — the Black and African American caucus and all other session attendees — to engage in a thoughtful discussion on the prevalence of anti-Black bias within the organization and to identify strategies to address it. WESP Renewal project participants have confronted data and stories throughout the process of the disproportionate negative outcomes Black employees experience as part of the County workforce. These intentional conversations on the ways that anti-Black bias manifests in County practices, policies and programs are critical to addressing the unique challenges Black employees face. 

The groups reconvened to discuss strategies to combat this reality and committed to retroactively reviewing all the work the steering committee had completed so far for anti-Black bias.

The November work sessions will focus on the Compensation and Practice topics.